Cold Spring Police Chief Phil Jones has resigned after more than 20 years leading a small-town department jolted by two high-profile cases: the 2003 Rocori High School shooting that left two students dead and the on-duty slaying of officer Thomas Decker last fall.
Jones, 48, has clashed recently with the Cold Spring City Council and the mayor of the central Minnesota town of 4,000, threatening to sue over payment issues. He said at a public meeting that he was "very angry" about what he viewed as a lack of support from the mayor. The city agreed to pay him $12,000 to settle the back-pay issues after a 2012 motorcycle accident and compensate Jones for 10 years of meal breaks and uniform allowances.
Jones, who didn't immediately respond to messages for comment, will officially step down July 12. He is selling his house and plans to move to Colorado Springs.
Sgt. Chris Boucher, a canine officer who grew up 3 miles away from Cold Spring and has been on the department for nearly 20 years, will take over as interim chief. He said Thursday he isn't sure whether he'll apply for the permanent chief's job.
"He's been chief for 20 years and I've been on the road for 20 years, so obviously he has a totally different style that I did," Boucher said. "I don't really know what my style will be."
Boucher acknowledged that the Rocori and Decker cases have taken their toll on everyone in the department, which includes Jones, seven full-time officers, eight part-timers and an expanded 36-square-mile jurisdiction that now covers nearby Richmond.
"When those kinds of things happen to a small department, there are those considerations about why they are happening here," said Boucher, 41.
Jones cited increased stress after the school and Decker shootings in his grievances with the city. City Attorney Tom Javonovich said that the dispute "has been fully resolved between him and the city."
Cold Spring plans to honor Jones for his two dozen years on the police department, including 21 as chief, at a July 11 open house.